By Deanna Noble, Wildlife Conservation Biologist, North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission //
Even though temperatures are cold, and we’ve seen some snow, forest owners shouldn’t lose sight of fact that winter is the ideal time to get some important things accomplished on their property. There are many management techniques that can be implemented during this time of year for the benefit of multiple species of wildlife. Here are just a few:
- Warm things up with a prescribed burn. Dormant season burns can take place in areas that have been fire suppressed and where there are heavy layers of litter and duff. Prescribed burning should begin with low intensity fires to reduce the fuel load.
- Plant trees and shrubs to give them a head start. During the dormant season is when most of the root growth takes place. Pines, hardwoods and shrubs all can be planted this time of year.
- Break out the chain saw and do some timber stand improvements. Select some of your higher quality hardwoods like oaks and hickories and cut down the trees nearby that may be competing for nutrients. Step inside your wood line and work on feathering the edges. This practice involves cutting selected trees to allow more sunlight to reach the forest floor and promote early successional habitat. The trees to focus on removing should be trees that are diseased or deformed and trees of limited value to wildlife, such as red maple and sweet gum. The cut trees can be used for brush piles as an added benefit to wildlife for cover.
- Use this time to get some work done in the shop. If you currently do not have any nest boxes on your property, consider a construction project. You can build woodland wildlife nest boxes, songbird boxes, and wood duck boxes … don’t forget the predator guards! If you already have boxes up remember to clean them out before nesting season.
- While it is easier to see in the woods, due to dormant vegetation, work on your property boundary lines. Keeping your property lines well marked are especially important if you plan to have any timber harvesting activities in the future. Marking your boundaries will also help with trespass issues and could reduce the need for survey work in the future.
So, take advantage of the cooler weather and enjoy winter in your woods. These management practices can go a long way to a healthier, more productive, and profitable forestland!
Below are some links with more information on the topics mentioned and please feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions regarding wildlife management on your property.
Using Fire to Improve Wildlife Habitat https://content.ces.ncsu.edu/using-fire-to-improve-wildlife-habitat
Woodland Wildlife Nest Boxes https://content.ces.ncsu.edu/woodland-wildlife-nest-boxes
Building Songbird Boxes https://content.ces.ncsu.edu/building-songbird-boxes
North Carolina Wood Duck Natural History and Management https://www.ncwildlife.org/Portals/0/Hunting/Documents/Waterfowl/NC_WoodDuck_Natural_History_and_Managment.pdf
Forestland Enhancement Practices https://content.ces.ncsu.edu/forest-land-enhancement-practices-in-north-carolina
Maintaining Forest Property Boundaries https://content.ces.ncsu.edu/maintaining-forest-property-boundaries
The Landowner Protection Act https://www.ncwildlife.org/Hunting/Laws-Safety/Landowner-Protection-Act